Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's Hip to Be Us

Over at Fan to Pro, Bonnie Walling's post Romance Fiction X Geekery OTP! celebrates how hip the romance genre is for embracing geek culture. I also think she's right on the money as to why romance has finally caught up with the times:

So how did a genre so associated with being unhip become hip? Simple - young women raised on geeky entertainment entered the industry, bringing their interests with them and sweeping away a lot of outdated attitudes. The result is a subset of the industry which has weathered the economic storm while other segments of publishing are struggling to survive.

I'm a bit older than geek culture (yes, I predate the personal computer) so I remember only too well the days when romance was mostly about chicks in long gowns being swept away by brutish rakes. Fortunately I'm also young enough to have enjoyed quite a bit of geeky entertainment, and no doubt I brought some of it with me when I went pro.

I think geek culture has greatly improved the quality of my writing life, too. The internet opened up an enormous new world for me as a writer, one where I could meet other storytellers, talk shop, and put some stories out there that anyone in the world could read (and that still seems like such a huge thing to me.)

Now I see the next generation of writers coming up and publishing some of the most exciting and innovative fiction I've ever read, and that inspires me to no end. I think it also pushes me to think in new directions and keep moving forward with the work versus sitting and stagnating.

Where do you think geek culture has had the most impact on you? Let us know in comments.


  1. Oh, where to start. I played D&D as a kid, which taught me to not just read fantasy but to think about rules. World-building 101. The computer and software tools let me work faster, check facts faster, keep my notes better organized. Growing up hooked on horror comics and Creature Feature gave me a love of monsters I brought into my romance writing. It goes on and on.

  2. I'm a software engineer. A female one. Yes, we're still a rare species (in my current job, about 25% of the workers are female--which is way higher than any other place I've ever worked).

    I was born liking math and science, raised by a trekkie electrical engineer father and a nurse mother (who, though less outspoken about it, never missed a Star Trek or Star Wars premier), and I married a computer/d&d/Magic (remember that card game?) gamer who's also a software engineer.

    Besides my own geek tendencies, I think a lot of the appeal of geekdom is that smart men (and women!) are hot. Instinctively, people look for mates who are good providers. Engineering and technology careers provide good stable incomes. And though women (and men) like to pant after a buff body, we all know that physical beauty wanes over time. When we're 95, we're going to want a partner who has something interesting to say besides "check out my pecks" (which by then might be dragging on the floor...)

  3. Geek culture is my life. Before I was ever even in school, I played videogames with the older boys on my street. At first they didn't want to let me play because I was a girl... and then because I was better than them. Every close friend I've ever had, I've met through some form of geek culture or another, and every boyfriend I've ever had I met with an intro that goes something like:

    Guy: Are you reading X-Men/playing Magic/watching Star Wars?
    Me: Yes, I am.
    Guy: But... you're a girl?
    Me: Last time I checked, yes, I am.

    Being a geek has defined my life.

  4. Oh, wow...well, I used to put together the Aurora Monster models, you know, Wolfman, Frankenstein...and spend hours painting them 'just right.' I also had my nose in Peanuts and Mad Magazine and I don't want to even think about what that one says about me!

    But I think what all of that did for me was give me the ability to imagine monsters in my world, in my backyard. I'm not good at all with trying to build a world from scratch, (though I do envy those who can) but I think I'm pretty good at incorporating the darker parts of my imagination into my real world.

  5. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Besides junior high and D&D, or my first boyfriend in high school? Hmm. I'd have to say writing and the internet as well. It was still uncommon to have a PC when I went to college, and more than once I would go to a computer lab to update a paper and discover I'd started it on a PC and was at a Mac lab, or vise versa.
    But once I got out into the field, my writing was almost 95-100% on a computer and now everyone in our house has our own. (My husband rebuilds them out of old parts.)
    word verification: "grawk" so close...

  6. WoW -- this is a total eureka article for me. Growing up I loved sci fi and I loved romances and when I came across my first paranormal romance I was ecstatic! It was all my favorite things rolled into one.

    I would more put myself in the "closet geek" category growing up. I desperately wanted to play D&D and actually did buy some packs of magic cards. But I found it very hard to find anyone to play with because I was desperately shy around boys and they were desperately awkward around girls. It wasn't until after college that I found a group of people to play at geekery with and the first time I got called a geek girl I was giddy.

    But I never connected it to romances. Romances are the thing I've had to defend to my geek friends, which is frustrating because I am pretty sure they would love Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, and Lynn Veil (of course) if they just gave them a try.

    Maybe I will start calling them geek romances instead of paranormal romances and see if that makes a difference. ;)

  7. Lynn, do you realise what this article means to me? It is such a "You are not alone"-moment. Thank you!

    Yeah, I was one of those "four eyes" that spent far too much time with computers when I grew up. I was born in the seventies so allthough there weren't a lot of them around, I loved, loved, loved to tinker with them whenever I got an opportunity.

    Even though programming is never as beautiful as storytelling (well, actually it is, but in another way) it gave me the ability to think ahead, to figure out what my story/program needed in terms of variables and settings to work. Basically, programming taught me some things about basic plotting that I could have spent a fortune learning later on.

    Geeking around with D&D and other role playing games got me into reading the fantasy classics (C.S. Lewis, Tolkien), comic books got me into horror and ultimately into reading Neil Gaiman.

    The first real book I ever read was Stephen King's "Carrie". I am sure some might think that was unfitting for an eight-year old. But I guess my mother thaught it was better to let me read and discover for myself what I liked, than to have read "fitting" things. I love her for it. And I hope that I will have the forsight to do the same for my own kids.

    During some ten years pretty much all I read was science fiction.

    So I guess that Geek Culture introduced me to both reading and writing. Something that changed my life on a profound level, for ever.


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